Mental Health

A Practical Look at Addiction and The Brain Disease Model

For many years, the primary school of thought surrounding addiction has been the brain disease model. While the debate still continues over if addiction is really a disease, there may never be a definitive answer, so we will take a practical approach and look at what works about the model and what doesn’t.
What is the Brain Disease Model of Addiction
Let’s start with a definition: The Brain Disease Model of Addiction describes addiction as a disease, rather than a disorder, syndrome, or...

Mental Health

Addiction and Neuroscience: Old Dogs, New Tricks

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” This has been accepted knowledge for so long that it’s an actual proverb. People (and dogs, apparently) reach a certain age and their habits are set. They’ll never clear the table after dinner. They’ll never pick up those socks.

They’ll never escape that addictive habit.

Except, good news, that proverb is wrong. Very, very wrong.

Although much of a human’s brain development has solidified by the age of twenty, our brains...

Substance Abuse

Addiction and the Opioid Epidemic

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.” Let that statistic sink in for a moment. Opioids, which historically were used to treat pain conditions, are easily addictive. The misuse of prescribed medications, or ingestion of street drugs such as heroin or fentanyl, leads to the potential for abuse, addiction, and overdose. Taking time to learn about the history of opioids and how they affect an individual will help you understand how they can lead to addiction, and what is necessary to get help if you’re experiencing struggling with substance problems yourself.

Mental Health

Top Signs of Unhealed Trauma, Part 2

“The psychological distress symptoms of traumatized people simultaneously call attention to the existence of an unspeakable secret and deflect attention from it.” In this quote from Trauma and Recovery, trauma expert Judith Herman makes an important point. On one hand, people with trauma often call attention to their suffering through unhealthy behaviors such as self-harm and drug abuse. But on the other hand, these same behaviors also serve to distract others from the real issue at hand. The addictions and abuses cover up the secret pain at the core of the individual’s experience. In working with addiction, it’s essential to get to the heart of the matter - to look beyond the obvious symptoms of dysfunction to the underlying core issues that are actually driving the behavior. In our last post, we shared 5 key indicators of unhealed trauma. In this post, we’ll give you 5 more, as well as resources to guide you on the road to recovery.

Mental Health

Top Signs of Unhealed Trauma, Part 1

“The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness.” So writes Judith Herman in her powerful book Trauma and Recovery. In this text, Herman expresses a fundamental truth about trauma: We tend to push it down and out of sight. Most of us know what it means to hide away from the worst things that have happened to us. The problem is that banishing our traumas doesn’t make them go away. As Herman notes in the same passage, “Atrocities … refuse to be buried …. Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.” In other words, you need to be able to recognize and name your trauma in order to heal from it.

Dual Diagnosis

Addiction and Adverse Childhood Experiences, Part 2

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part post series. Start with Part 1 so that you’ll be up to speed on what Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are, how to identify your ACEs, and how they impact your life on all levels. There’s no doubt about it: Childhood trauma leaves a uniquely painful impact on our lives. Thanks to the study of psychosocial development in early childhood, we know that early life trauma impedes our development in very specific ways. However, we also know this: Everyone has trauma of some kind. No one makes it through this world unscathed. And from the perspective of Spiritual Psychology, we also know that it’s possible to see all the events of our lives - even the most painful ones - as part of our growth and development, not separate from it!

Dual Diagnosis

Addiction and Adverse Childhood Experiences, Part 1

Pop quiz: At what age do our childhood hurts stop hurting? Put another way, what’s the cutoff point when you shift out of childhood pain and forget it for good? This is a trick question, because the truth is that there is no such magical age. There is no specified time at which the traumas of our childhood suddenly stop being traumatic. So why do we act as though this is true?

Dual Diagnosis

Addiction and Powerlessness

It’s a good thing to admit that you’re powerless over your addiction … isn’t it? Not so fast. The very first step of the 12-Step paradigm begins: “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol …” But what if that negative affirmation actually prevents you from getting well?

Dual Diagnosis

Addiction and Reparenting

Have you ever had the experience of seeing a fellow adult acting like a child? Perhaps you saw someone else burst into tears at a perceived slight, or fly into a rage at the drop of a hat. If so, it’s likely that you had the thought, “Wow, that person is acting like a kindergartener.” Guess what? You’re right. Not only is that person acting like a kid, but on an emotional level, he or she really is much younger. At that particular point in time, they’re operating as a hurt child. The way forward in this situation is not to find a time machine and travel back to the past. Instead, it’s to learn how to reparent the younger part of ourselves right here and now.